An Internet contest to name the new M-346 combat jet trainer has elicited more than 2,000 ideas. First prize includes a free ride. Manufacturer Alenia Aermacchi, a subsidiary of Italy's aerospace and defence giant Finmeccanica, is not revealing any names, but aviation buffs at Internet forums have proposed choices like the Pizza Pie, Italian Stallion, Turbo Pigeon and Pompeii. In-house aircraft naming competitions are common enough. But the month-long Internet contest, taking entries until November 23, has drawn far-flung responses from countries such as Britain, the United States, Canada, Indonesia, Bahrain, Turkey, the Philippines and Slovenia. About 70 percent are from Italy.
The nimble twin-engine M-346, capable of mimicking cockpit conditions on dvanced fighters like the F-22, is the first aircraft the company has named since WWII. Italy, Spain, Britain and Germany are partners on the Eurofighter, a.k.a. the Typhoon. But Germany shuns the label, having been heavily bombed by a plane with that name during WWII. The Germans refer to the plane as the Eurofighter EF 2000.
The M-346 had a long development period, starting with studies for a new advanced trainer in the 1980s. A partnership with the Russian Yakovlev dissolved in 1999. The first prototype rolled out in 2003. Italy, which owns a third of Finmeccanica, has opted for up to 15 M-346 trainers. But the nine-nation Advanced European Jet Pilot Training programme is bogged down and not expected to be operational for a decade. Currently the M-346 is short-listed in Singapore and the United Arab Emirates, facing off against the Korean Aerospace Industries/Lockheed Martin T-50, a.k.a the Golden Eagle.
Name contest entry forms are available at http://concorsom346.aermacchi.it. First prize in the contest is a flight in the M-346, a visit to the Alenia Aermacchi factory in Venegono Superiore plus a visit the Italian Air Force Museum at Vigna di Valle - Bracciano (Rome). Second prize includes a visit to the Alenia Aermacchi factory in Venegono Superiore plus a visit the Italian Air Force Museum at Vigna di Valle – Bracciano. Third prize includes a visit to the Alenia Aermacchi factory in Venegono Superiore. All prizes will assign within 180 days from the closing of the competition and all the travel expenses will be included.
After you entered, drop by the Military Trader/Vehicles Forum and share your name with us!